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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

WWE Star & Manager Mr. Fuji Dead

For fans of the WWE and it's previous better moniker of the WWF, sad news: Mr. Fuji was passed away at the age of 82.

Born in Hawaii as a Japanese American as Harry Fujiwara on May 4, 1934 in Honolulu, solidly-built wrestler was more famous for being the evil Mr. Fuji who would throw salt (like a sumo wrestler) into the eyes of his opponent, blinding them so they could be easily pinned.

Uh, you do know this is sports entertainment, right?

Debuting in 1965 as a wrestler under the name Mr. Fujiwara, winning many championships.

When he debuted with the WWF in 1972, he became a heel (bad guy) wrestler, teaming up with Professor Toru Tanaka (you might known him as the ice-staking, razor hockey stick swinging ‘stalker’ in the Arnold Swartzenegger movie “The Running Man”) and managed by the Grand Wizard - one of my all-time favorite managers! Both gentlemen preceded Fujiwara.

After throwing salt into opponent eyes, Mr. Fuji’s famous finishing moves include the:
  • Kamikaze Clothesline (it’s a lariat, which is similar to a clothesline, except the attacking wrestler runs at the opponent and wraps the arm around upper chest and neck to force them to the ground, and
  • The Cobra Clutch - I always loved that one! You can look up wrestling maneuvers HERE.
Along with The Grand Wizard, Mr. Fuji was managed by Classy Freddie Blassie and Lou Albano (the fat dude with rubber bands in his hair from the Cyndi Lauper videos). Blassie did voice-over work on the classic Dr. Demento song by Johnny Legend called “Pencil Neck Geek” - a song I still know by heart though I haven’t heard it in decades. HERE.

When Mr. Fuji retired in 1985 - pretty much just before wrestling became a big bucks enterprise - he became a heel manager, continuing to blind opponent wrestlers with salt in the eyes, or maybe whacking them with his walking cane.

From that time on, he wore the black tuxedo and bowler hat, and it you weren’t that familiar with who he was, you’d swear he was Oddjob from the 1970s James Bond flicks.

Wrestlers managed by Mr. Fuji are:
  • George The Animal Steel -Andrew… like… George…(nod-nod);
  • Don The Magnificent Muraco;
  • Cowboy Bob Orton - quack, quack… someone will get that joke;
  • The Moondogs;
  • Killer Khan;
  • Jim The Anvil Neidhart (best beard ever);
  • Sika (one half of the Wild Samoans);
  • Kamala the Ugandan Headhunter;
  • Demolition, featuring Ax, Smash and Crush;
  • The Powers of Pain (The Barbarian and The Warlord) - I admit to not knowing who they are as a tag team. I do individually;
  • The Berzerker;
  • The Orient Express, featuring Pat Tanaka, Akio Sato and Kato;
  • Crush (as a single);
  • Yokozuna - big guy died young. I have no idea how the ring was able to sustain his weight;
  • Owen Hart - I was watching the pay-per-view when he fell to his death during some stupid entrance;
  • Davey Boy Smith, one half of the British Bulldogs. Died young;
  • Jeff Jarrett - hated that guy, which means he was great at his job of being a heel.

Mr. Fuji was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007.

No official cause of death was given, but let's hope it was old age - having the old ticker explode while on a bender at a cat house in Reno.

Probably not. He was always so quiet, and sneaky quiet... he'd never go out like that.

Anyhow… Mr. Fuji… thanks for the entertainment. Back in the days before the WWE/WWF became the behemoth it is, professional wrestling-entertainment was a lot of fun, and Mr. Fuji was a huge part of that. Domo arigato.

From parts unknown,
Andrew “Gorgeous George” Joseph
PS: I no longer watch the weekly programs as I used to, but I have flipped the channel to let my son see what's going on. Just last light he tapped his bent right elbow with the palm of his left and attempted to drop it on his mother who was lying on the couch. Apparently that was my fault for letting him see that stuff in the first place. I'm snickering as I write this. I had to teach him that it's actually fake - which elicited a huge "Awwwwww", and showed him how they really do the elbow drop and punches.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Irish Girl A Kick-Butt Samurai

Meet nine-year-old Jesse Jane McParland, a diminutive little girl from Ireland who may now be looking to kill me for calling her a "little girl" like it was a negative thing.

Her nickname is the "Golden Dragon" and she is a double WAKO (World Association of Kickboxing Organizations) champion (Euros, too), six-time WKO (World Karate & Kickboxing Commission) champion, and three-time WOMMA (World Organization of Martial Arts Athletes)... obviously for her age-group.

Although as a younger youngster she took up ballet and Irish dancing—because that's what parents think all girls want to do, she saw a martial arts demonstration and immediately moved into that figuring it was more her style.

Going out on a limb, here, but I think she was right.

Check out her bad @$$ routine here - volume is not required but is a heck of a lot of fun:

So... using her sword, I believe she is performing kenjutsu ((剣術), which covers all of the schools of Japanese swordsmanship.

Kenjutsu originated within the samurai warrior class during the feudal era of Japan, and literally is defined as being "the method, or technique, of the sword" - in contrast to kendo (which I did and enjoyed, which means "the way of the sword."

Since I wasn't that great at kendo, I have no idea what that all really means, as my instruction was in Japanese, and I didn't understand a damn thing unless it was visually shown to me. I'm a visual guy. You show me yous, I'll show you mine. See?

Anyhow, away from my dumb ego and back to the Golden Dragon...

I believe she also appeared on Britain's Got Talent, doing reasonably well her her sword routine. 

I’m guessing she is using the smaller wakizishi (脇差) style of Nihonto (Japanese sword), and not the longer katana—the kid is nine, after all… anyhow, the wakizashi blade is usually 30- to 60-centimeters (12- to 24-inches) in length.

I'm also guessing that the blade isn't sharp, but what the heck do I know?

The point isn’t whether or not the kid is a superstar martial artist with a technique that could take out an army of rebel scum Japanese troublemakers, rather it’s about how much she scares the crap out of me.

Seriously… you just armed your kid, and then gave her training to kill you in a more effective manner. The only other equivalent I can come close to is buying a set of drums for your kid when you weren’t a drummer for Spinal Tap.

For me, McParland's routine is a complete winner if only for her final scream lamenting the deaths of her many enemies, and maybe for the way she bows, and walks backwards from the judges so as to not show any disrespect to them.

I'm sure there's something equally wicked from a Japanese girl, but was shown this video first by my friend Barb who insisted I watch Game Of Thrones because it was awesome. She was right.

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Freedom Of Speech And An AJET Publication

One of my favorite letters sent to myself while editor of Tochigi-ken’s infamous Tatami Times newsletter for those on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme) was one sent to me for the June 1991 issue.

It was typed and even signed… and if one actually had the knowledge and experience, he would note that the signature was a pretty good likeness to whom it was purporting to be.

Because of the typed document, and the fact that someone knew enough to use the name - it had to be from a guy. The content even reads like a guy’s. I’m pretty sure I know who it is from. Except… now that I think of it, there was only ever ONE person who ever called me “An-do-roo”.

Maybe he’ll respond to this serious accusation. But it doesn’t sound like something he would have written.

Anyhow… here’s that Letter To The Editor:

Dear An-do-roo,
As a JET from another prefecture who is lucky enough to see the Tochigi Tatami Times fairly regularly I want to say how great the T.T. has been the last 3-4 months, especially considering how few AETs take the time to contribute.
The quality of articles and professionalism exhibited in the article that have been sent in are really something all JETs can be proud of. I really like the articles devoted to sexual matters and so-called “bathroom humor.”
The best example was the recent poopie article which was truly spellbinding, but we all know that something like that could only come from one of our chugakko ichi-nen-sei. Maybe you could have given credit to the 12-year-old mind that wrote it and to the guy who was lucky enough to get to translate it into English.
You also have a wide variety of subjects discussed, unlike Jay “I-cab-only-think-of-jokes-about-Northwest-Airlines-and Dan Quayle-but-that-seems-to-be-enough” Leno. Of course, if you’e long on space you could always run a few dozen more bicycle accident stories, I never get tired of those. Then too, there are always more condom pictures to consider. Those are always appropriate, well-appreciated and in good taste.
Also, a good magazine like the T.T. never smacks of hypocrisy. That’s why I’m always glad to see the “Lush of the Month” page glorifying drunkenness. I assume none of the JETs in Tochigi ever drinks too much, at least not the ones that criticize the Japanese for drinking excessively.
Well, that’s about it for now. I have to get back to editing my own magazine. I’m currently overseeing exciting research to find out if there is any correlation between nose picking, frequency of use of vulgarity and low IQ. Should be great reading.

Sincerely,
(signed first name only)
Larry Flint

P.S. If you don’t start getting more submissions for the next T.T. how about running a list of prostitute prices in Utsonomiya for your next edition? My list is out of date.

(Ed. note: For the uninformed, Larry is the publisher of Hustler magazine. It’s an adult-nudie book. Larry has long been a supporter of freedom of speech and of the press. He was shot and paralyzed by an Agnus Dei who objected to those rights.) (Or it’s a pseudonym.)

-30-


Okay, that's the end of that... 

So… if you were me, receiving submissions for a newsletter that you had to sometimes type up, but usually just had to photo copy (from and back) and staple, address, pay for mailing to send out to the provincial AJET community, what would you do if you received such a letter of comment?

It wasn’t signed - at least not really.

Then again, was it a scathing critique of the work you put into the magazine these past few months?

Or was it applauding some of the things you did, and critiquing some of the stuff that done.

I did add that wasn’t signed.

The infamous “poopie” article was something submitted by person's unknown. It was funny, and described different types of craps one makes. Was it appropriate for the newsletter? No. That’s me in 2016 saying that. At the time, who the hell was I to say what humor was tasteful and what wasn’t.

I was going to publish and let the audience decide. So I did. And some did. I applaud Larry Flynt.

But was it really a scathing critique? The writer obviously knew who Larry Flynt was, and correctly (or unluckily) surmised that I would too. After Hugh Hefner, Bob Guccione, Larry Flynt was the next well-known publisher of an adult magazine or three.

That editor’s note below the LOC… that was me making a point… that the real Larry Flynt believed in freedoms of speech and expression, and that he was shot (and paralyzed) by a ultra-extremist religious “Lamb of God” for sticking up for his right to do so. However... turns out that MY information was incorrect (though I did read what I wrote from a copy of Hustler!) In reality, Flynt was shot by an ultra white-supremacist who objected to an interracial photo in Hustler

Anyhow, the writer mentions the condom photo (guilty, mea culpa), the Lush of The Month, photo(s) submitted by JETs of their fellow JET(s) behaving drunk. Not my idea, but it was a popular feature from before I took over, and I kept the tradition up until no one sent in photos anymore. Imagine what it would be like nowadays with everyone (almost) having cellphones.  

So… it’s funny… the letter writer rips the person who submitted the Poopie story (for having written it or having stolen it from a Grade 1, 2 or 3 student), might be sarcastically helpful regarding the sexual matters and bathroom humor, criticizes an over-abundance of bicycle accident stories, implies that people who swear are nose-pickers and have a low IQ…

But again, chooses Larry Flynt as the persona to deliver his message.

I couldn’t tell if I was being peed upon or congratulated… which is the height of proper insulting. So kudos, there.

My response, however, trumped the letter… by knowing who and pointing out just what Larry Flynt was all about, I made my point without having to swear or pick my nose.

For me, this was like having a battle of wits against and unarmed opponent.

As a final aside… the letter writer miss-spelled Larry’s name.

It’s Flynt, not Flint.

You'll notice I spell it so throughout this blog, except for the letter itself, appearing as it was written and published.

At the time, I was pretty sure it was spelled incorrectly in the Letter, but I wasn’t sure. No internet back then.

That was why, in the Ed. note, I merely called him Larry. I recall reading in a copy of Hustler (he also put out Chic) that Larry had been shot and paralyzed. 

Somewhere with a magazine,
Andrew “I’m a magazine writer” Joseph
PS: I always signed my own stories. All writers are ego-maniacs.
PPS: The image above is of a guy that is ripped. I couldn't find an image of a magazine being ripped (double entendre).  

Saturday, August 27, 2016

So Long And Thanks For All The Fish

Looking for interesting things to write about, I’ve plumbed the depths to find stories and articles submitted to the local JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme newsletter, the Tatami Times for Tochigi-ken.

I naturally kept all the issues I was editor in chief of… and I am quite proud to state that even if the issues weren’t always the most chock-full of useful information, I did turn it into something as witty as such a brilliant magazine akin to National Lampoon (the Gold Standard of comedic magazines in the '80s and early '90s - that's when I read'em) I know, I certainly am not suffering from a lack of ego.

Anyhow, I thought I’d share a piece sent in and published by one Dan Brudos, who was leaving the JET Programme at the end of his contract in the summer of 1991.

Dan was always a funny guy, and I wish I knew him better.

It’s a helpful guide to the JTE’s (Japanese teacher’s of English) and how they can best handle their brand new gaijin, er AET (assistant English teacher) from a foreign land.

He paraphrased his opening title from the Douglas Adams book:

So Long And Thanks For All The Fish
or
How To Ensure The Local AET Will Remember Your School For A Long Time
  1. Make sure their desk chair is the broken one that no one else wants to sit in;
  2. Tell the students ahead of time that the AET’s English will be hard to understand. They should say ‘Wakarenai’ as often as possible;
  3. Change the AET’s schedule just as the bells chime;
  4. Change your lesson plan just after the bells chime;
  5. Tell the AET about both changes as you walk thru the door into class;
  6. At lunch time force students to sit next to him;
  7. Ask them again if they can use chopsticks;
  8. Dish your AET’s lunch early so that it can be served to them really cold;
  9. During cleaning time, have a group of students chant “Gaijin-da” in the hallways;
  10. Be surprised when your Australian AET doesn’t seem to know much about America.
If you want to be mentioned in the next letter your AET sends home, do all of these things on their first day and never let up.
-30-   

‘Wakarenai means “ I don’t know.” 

Dan’s Australian, so I knew there was a real good reason I liked him. Plus - Hitchiker’s Guide To The Galaxy reference? C’mon! Yeah!

To be sure, I was never sure if Dan was being purposely witty in this helpful handout that should go to all the JTE’s or not.

Did he really get the crappy chair? Did they really have to force students to sit beside him at lunch? Really? He’s so cool! He’s Australian!

The chopsticks thing is actually kind of funny. They ask you that question as you are using it. My sad story is that I actually called a kid “bakayaro (stupid)” in a funny way as I pointed to my chopsticks moving a piece of konyakku into my mouth. Then I dropped it on my shirt. Apparently I can’t use chopsticks. Karma is a bee-yatch.

As for warning the students that the AET’s English will be difficult to understand - well… Dan is Australian. I mean everything sounds like “Geeyr", "G’day" and "Toss another shrimp on the barby, mate.” And I swear every other sentence has the word ‘beah’ in it, which I think means ‘beer’.

No… Aussie's can be difficult  to understand… unlike their southern cousins in Kiwiland…. but especially so after a few beah’s. Holy crap… the Scots too… especially when you get them talking about Football. It’s like, I know you speak English, but…. WTF!?

I’m kidding. Dan’s English was very easy to understand. I’m not kidding about the rest of Oz (or Scotland - I had a Glaswegian and a guy from Aberdeen sit beside me at work… two wild and wooly accents, and while I could pick up the odd word (usually ‘haggis’), it was difficult to understand any of their casual chats. 

Okay - Dan’s list: As a Canadian, I did resent the implication that just because I spoke English, that I must be from ‘Merica.

However, as a non-White Canadian, I was actually impressed that they didn’t immediately think I was from India. Yes, my parents are Indian, but I’ve never been there, don’t speak the language and don’t really care for the food more than once every few months.

Now, some idiot will read this and claim I can never be a Canadian because I’m not White. It’s fine. I’ll track you back easily enough. I’m preparing a list.

The student’s really chanted ‘gaijin-da’? Holy crap. Dan must have been posted to a single school out in the rural-est rural part of the country. That would suck if it happened once, let alone all the time.

If that happened to me, the teachers, principal, my board of education office would be having a discussion. That student(s) would be in soooo much trouble. My bosses and colleague’s would never have put up with crap like that. Never.

Again… I can only hope Dan was exaggerating.

I also want to point out that this adventure was from 1991, and while kids can be cruel and stupid in any era or country, seeing foreigners in torn and in school is no longer a big thing for most Japanese.

Anyhow… Dan Brudos… thank-you, wherever you are!

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Stars' Fault: Book Review And Free Offer - Updated

ED. Note - new launch date - one day later.

This blog affords me the opportunity to ‘chat’ with some very interesting people from time to time—readers, as well as those who I have known for years, allowing me the opportunity to reconnect.

Believe it or not, I relish each and every conversational fragment I have with you all.

One such person is John Box, a pseudonym, though I do know his real name. John is a writer.

He’s a fascinating individual who, as an American, lived in Japan and was essentially a sex boy at one of those nasty little clubs we’ve heard of, wished we had the courage to check out, but in the long run are kind of glad that we didn’t, because who needs the hassle.

Well… John Box is all about the hassle and the hustle, and he wrote one of the most fascinating books about the underbelly of Japan that I have ever read, entitled: American MaleWhore in Tokyo, under the pen name of Rowen Boozewell.

The guy has a lot of aliases. Aliasi? Whatever.

I’ve had plenty of time to get to know John, as well as someone can get to know someone when discussing books and conquests in Japan, so he surprised the heck out of me earlier this month when he asked if I would review his latest book called: The Stars’ Fault.

I knew what to expect, and when I read it I was blown away.

It wasn’t about Japan and sex and debauchery and booze and stuff like that, it was about a group of kids struggling with cancer.

I know…. holy crap, right?

Now, John’s story doesn’t delve deep into the ugliness of the disease or treatments, rather it’s about a group of kids in a cancer ward in a hospital hating the fact that they have cancer, but sharing themselves through a sci-fi book one of them has.

The Stars’ Fault is simply-written—that’s not a fault, by the way—and is a mere 66-page novella. 

It’s not going to win a Pulitzer Prize, then again, neither did any of Shakespeare’s works.

It’s kind of a funny story about kids with cancer, if that’s possible to say seeing as how I don’t have cancer (that was a close one, what with that nodule in my neck)… but as John notes, The Stars’ Fault is one part parody, two parts mindscrew, and three parts the best words.

Wait. I don’t understand that third part. Mindscrew. See?

The story alternates between the kids’ world and the sci-f world of the book, featuring a 10-year-old boy named Fen who is kind of a prick (yes, kid’s with cancer can still be jerks), and the captain of a space pioneer squadron who is fighting for the survival of HIS species.

It is actually a unique perspective on cancer and I applaud John Box for having the testicular fortitude to write the story.

Keep in mind the term “mindscrew”. I’m sure he would have preferred the term “mindfXXk” but this is a relatively clean blog.

The Stars’ Fault is being launched on Amazon, August 27, 2016, and it is FREE for readers of this blog for FIVE DAYS ONLY until August 31, 2016.

After that, it’s US$0.99, $CDN $1.29…

To quote John: “As long as Amazon doesn't pull a fast one on me, here's the link: http://tinyurl.com/guxb9kl."

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I enjoyed the story!

Kanpai!
Andrew Joseph

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Prime Minister Abe As Mario As Coffee Foam Art

During the closing ceremonies of the 2016 Rio Olympics, we were treated with the sight of watching a two-dimensional Nintendo Mario hop all around Japan and leap down into a green pipe, and then stare in amazement as a 3D pipe rose up from the Rio stage, with Mario himself slowly rising from the pipe in a crouch position.

Only it wasn’t Mario. It was actually Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (surname first), who was dressed up as Mario!

Holy cats! Love him or hate’em, Abe showed a never-before-seen playful side to himself in dressing up as the beloved Italian carpenter/plumber from Donkey Kong and Mario World video games that was created by Nintendo.

While I was there at the forefront of popular arcade video game play in the 1970s, dropping quarters into such fun stand-up fare as Space Invaders, Star Castle, Missile Command and Defender (and Gorf, Scramble, 1942, Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Robotron, (space pilots needed for sector wars, play) Astro Blaster - the first sit down game I can recall playing, Galaxian, Centipede—holy crap… I think I had a problem - and many, many, many, many many, many, many more, like Satan's Hollow, Star Wars!!!! - loved that one, Galaga, Millipede, Pole Position, Frogger, Dig-Dug, Joust (love the ostrich), Q-bert ($#%^!), Dragon's Lair and Space Ace (50¢ a shot??!!), Burger Time, Tron, Zaxxon (it sure looked 3D!), Tetris, Tapper, Spy Hunter (played the Peter Gunn theme in the background!) Berserk (intruder alert!, Outrun and Asteroids—I regularly searched the couch for coins in order to play Donkey Kong and its sequel Donkey Kong Jr.

It’s a good thing I became an expert at fishing credits with string, tape and a single quarter.

By the way, if you were ever in an arcade and saw ASS as the initials for the high score, that wasn’t me. Same with BUM or TIT. I was ASJ. Hey, I only learned to be crass as an adult.

I certainly made it a point to purchase and play Nintendo’s Super Mario World series of home video games.

Anyhow, this blog is actually about the fun coffee foam art in the image above, depicting Abe as Mario, poking his Curly Howard-looking visage out from the pipe—a tribute to the closing ceremony in Rio.

Now, while Abe in the foam looks like everybody's favorite Stooge (Me? I like Iggy!), he is not saying nyuck-nyuck - his trademark chuckle.

He is saying "nyoki nyoki", which means “to grow quickly”.

Seriously... I saw Curly in the coffee foam, read it as nyuck-nyuck and wondered what the heck the social commentary on the Olympics and Abe really was.

While I believe my mistranslation would have been funnier, thanks to Michael P. at work for the correct translation. I hope it's correct. 

I can’t confirm it, but I believe that the coffee foam artwork is the brainchild of Japanese artist Matsuno Kohei.

See HERE and HERE for a couple of blogs I produced on the coffee foam art by Matsuno.

Somewhere, there's and Italian-Japanese in my coffee,

Andrew Joseph

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Japan’s Micro Homes

Mickey’s got a Minnie Mouse, and Japan’s got a mini house.

My pal Matthew sent me a neat piece by CNN on-line showing off some of Japan’s modern, but extremely small footprint architecture.

Well… maybe small footprint isn’t correct. While the base is small, the CNN story shows a plethora of photos describing how these artists/architects designed very livable and workable home and office spaces in Japan that don’t merely go straight up.

I love Toronto, but damn there are a lot of boring-looking houses and skyscrapers (with many exceptions, of course)… but all of the many monster homes going up nowadays—which they dare to call ‘Custom” even though they seem to come from the same cookie-cutter box of six home designs, and are being sold as ‘custom’ builds even though the buyer ain’t getting their own customization… well, Toronto is becoming or has become quite stale with design innovation.

I’m not saying Japan is the be-all, here… I’m sure there are many cities with the same problems in Toronto as there are in Japan and elsewhere in the world as far as architectural design, still, it seems like there are more and more instances where Japan’s land-owners and architects are pushing the boundaries.

Or maybe the land-owners are the ones who deserve the kudos for trying to construct something less cookie-cutter.

Check out the CNN article written by Kate Springer, and published on August 23, 2016 - HERE.

No… wait… I take that back.

The entire CNN piece appears to have been written as some sort of press release/homage to Japanese architect firm Atelier Tekuto.

Damn… that’s too bad.

While it’s NOT a case of Japanese architects getting to show off some mad design skills, we do at least get to see one.

So… let’s see… Tekuto - the obvious Japanese word, is, according to the architect company, how you say the word “architect” in Japanese: 天工人.

The Japanese terms 天工 means ‘laws of nature, and 工人 means “a person who makes things” - so “nature-skill-human”.

Now that’s how you design a word!

Anyhow, there’s a Japanese, English and Chinese-language website for Atelier Tekuto for your viewing pleasure at www.tekuto.com/en.

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph